It occurred to me this week, as I was doing the final preparations for a client visit, that most of what I speak on and write about has to do with what is commonly referred to as “change management,” yet I hardly ever use that phrase. I think the reason for this is two-fold. First of all, I have no desire to jump on some bandwagon and be lumped together with all the “Change Management Experts” out there, who may or may not have ever personally led any kind of transformation at all, and secondly, I believe the term “change management” perpetuates an entirely false connotation. I believe the greatest issue with change management has to do with failure to recognize that “change” is rarely the problem, and “management” is rarely the solution!
If you have ever taken on a substantive change or major transformation, you know that such pursuits always almost always invite some resistance and hesitation. If the initiative has been tried and failed before, you have even a bigger challenge on your hand. You might hear the initiative being referred to as another “program of the month,” or be told by someone in the organization that they have “tried that before and it didn’t work.” Needless to say, convincing naysayers to become enthusiastic advocates for change in situations like this can seem like an insurmountable challenge. But there are some things you can do that can help, and I’d like to suggest a few in this post.
We’re going to jump right back into the discussion we started in last week’s post, “Why Good Leaders Go Bad: Brilliant Jerks,” and continue our exploration of the anatomy of brilliant jerks. In this post, we’re specifically going into how resistance to change factors into why good leaders go bad. This is also another post on the longer side, so without further ago, let’s get back into it
We live in a world that is increasingly obsessed with quick fixes and instant gratification. We don’t have time to stop and get gas, even though we are running on fumes, because we left late. We don’t have time to stop and sharpen the saw because we are too busy trying—and failing—to cut the tree down. We don’t have the money to save or invest in retirement because we have to have that car/phone/vacation right now, instead of waiting until we can afford it. Examples abound, and I’m sure you can think of some of your own. The bottom line is that we end up being so focused on efficiency that we often end up sacrificing effectiveness as a result. All too often, we judge the potential solutions and strategies on how quickly and how well they are going to address the symptoms that we see right in front of us, while completely ignoring the cause of our discontent. This feeds the perpetual focus on fixing problems rather than creating a discontinuous shift in results, i.e. we ignore the roots of transformation to pursue the fruits of change.